The MacLehose Press publicity team have embarked on their annual pilgrimage to Edinburgh, with Philippe Claudel, Kurdo Baksi and Elias Khoury all taking part in this year’s festival.
Claudel’s event took place on Saturday evening and it was very pleasing to see, in a show of hands at the start of proceedings, that around half of the audience had read the book under discussion, Monsieur Linh and his Child.
Claudel revealed that since the international success of his novel Grey Souls, he has kept a worldwide audience in mind when writing, which partially accounts for the non-specificity of place in Monsieur Linh. He also said that he had recently turned down a request by a scriptwriter to take his slim, beguiling fable to the big screen, as seeing his novels made into films has never much interested him. Films can be complex, says Claudel, a successful screenwriter and director himself, but adapting a novel always requires simplification, something he found out first hand when Grey Souls was adapted. In any case, anyone who has read Monsieur Linh will agree that it must be one of the definitive unfilmable novels.
Radio Teesdale recorded an interview with Claudel earlier this month, which will give a flavour of Saturday’s lively discussion and question and answer session.
Kurdo Baksi made his first Edinburgh appearance on Sunday, talking about his book Stieg Larsson, My Friend, and even before his event he was attracting attention. Always partial to one myself, I insisted he join me in a cookies and cream with chocolate flake ice cream; as I queued, he was approached by Ann Giles of the Bookwitch blog, who spoke to him in Swedish and ask for a photograph. Later that day, Baksi gave one of the complimentary tickets to the photographer, Helen.
The Guardian reported this morning on the more sensationalist aspects of Baksi’s talk, but you can also read about his work with the Kurdish diaspora around the world in this Kurdish Globe interview. Radio Teesdale have also recorded an interview with Mr Baksi.
Elias Khoury will be appearing at Edinburgh on Thursday, but more on Mr Khoury later . . .